“Get the fluffy words out.”
His words landed like an elephant on my chest.
“Did he just call me fluffy? What the hell. He doesn’t even know me. How dare he!”
“Oh no, here come the tears. Don’t let anyone see or they’ll know I don’t belong here. What did I get myself into?”
These thoughts were running through my head as his thoughts about my vision just landed. I could feel my body heat up, my throat tightening, and my eyes spilling shame filled tears I could not hide. Crap!
Ok, that just happened
I was on the first virtual call of a year-long program and the topic is how to create a “big-ass” vision for your business. I’m here because I want to continue to grow my coaching business and so I jumped at the invitation from one of the facilitators to share my new, raw, unedited vision in the chat along with all the other brave souls.
As he read through all the responses, he nodded and seemed to like what he was reading until he got to mine and said “Get the fluffy words out.” When asked to clarify what “fluffy” means, he called out my vision and my use of “compassionately” and how basically wrong this was (after apologizing for possibly saying my name wrong, which he did. “sigh”). Whoa! That stung on so many levels. My instinct was to run and hide; to get away from this discomfort so that it would end.
I could have turned off my video; I kept it on
I could have logged off the call; I decided to stay
I reminded myself that I’m here because I want to be here. I want to grow as a business owner and sometimes it’s super uncomfortable. Like right now! Ugh!!
Now I’m all about growth edges. I’m also all about feeling safe and supported (that’s a topic for another day). In that moment I felt like he’d just stomped on my heart and said, “You suck! You’re not getting it. You shouldn’t be here.” Yep, this is the story I was telling myself. There was another story I was telling myself – I have to change who I am and how I show up in the world and for and my clients because my vision doesn’t work. It isn’t “right.” Wham! Bam! Thank you, sir.
“Be Yourself; everyone else is already taken“ – Oscar Wilde
This all happened in about a minute. Seriously. That fast. It doesn’t take a lot of time for the inner critic to take hold. After all, that voice has had a lot of practice. As the voice (or voices) started to take hold, I recognized it in my body before my mind could even process what was happening – those physical and emotional cues that were telling me my inner critic was about to take me down. Breathe.
The good news is I have a new relationship with my inner critic and they were not taking me down. I realized I had given that voice way too much space in that moment and I knew it was time for a reset. My inner critic needed a time out.
In addition to loving my growth edges, I’m also big on reflection. In my reflection and processing this experience, something new emerged that reminded me of what I know deep down in my core and in my essence; I don’t have to change who I am. In fact, who I am is the best thing I can be. And I can have a vision with “compassionately” in it if I want to. It’s my choice.
This clarity did not emerge in one sitting or one day. There were more tears, I opened up with people in my world whom I trust and who I know would “see me” and not judge, I took nature walks (my big “go to!”), loved up my doggie and took a good look at my inner critic. I asked myself “Is there something this voice is trying to tell me?” I think that voice was trying to protect me and wanting me to escape the discomfort when it was the discomfort I needed most. Reminding me again that growth edges aren’t always comfortable.
It’s not that I won’t ever have this type of moment again and that I won’t get hooked by that inner voice. I promise it will happen again. I have learned to recognize this voice and when the voice shows up, I give myself space to decide whether to listen or not.
What this experience has taught me
I’m sharing this experience because I discovered some very important takeaways and insights that perhaps can help you too.
1. The tears were necessary and totally ok.
2. Staying with my discomfort even though I wanted to flee allowed me to connect with an amazing woman during the paired breakouts at the end of the call. I wouldn’t have met her had I’d bailed.
3. Be curious about what compassion and compassionately means to me.
4. Dig a bit deeper into how compassion can change the world (this is important to me, clearly!).
5. Keep going. I have a new working draft of my big vision and it feels amazing. It’s about feeling and bringing compassion into the world even if I don’t use the word.
While my vision is still a work in progress, being aware of the experience I was having in that moment, taking time to talk with people I trust about my experience and doing some reflection on my own, provided some pretty good stuff.
Does this experience sound familiar?
What’s one thing you’d like to do next time your inner critic wants to take you down and make choices for you?